I know that War Machine has been a term for a long time. I mean, Black Sabbath sang the song War Pigs which uses that term, so it had to exist probably at least since the 1960’s as a sort of protest term maybe during Vietnam? Normally, I might look that up, but I am just spitballing here.
Clearly the Netflix original film War Machine is referring to it in this way, about modern conflicts and maybe war profiteers.
But as you all are aware, there is War Machine of the Iron Man/Marvel movies, and he is probably big enough to have taken over that title. Maybe they picked the title to just piggy back off of that Marvel money. That Disney money.
Like war profiteers.
The face you make when you have been a heartthrob for decades and now have to play a role with gray hair.
General Glen McMahon (Brad Pitt) is a leader in the United States Armed Forces, and has dedicated his life to his career. He was born on an army base, coming from several soldiers. He graduated from West Point, like all eventual war leaders, and so on. He likes to get shit done, he has his close crew of soldiers he can trust, and he doesn’t appreciate things getting in his way.
This is set a few years ago, with Obama still as president, and he wants to end the war in Afghanistan. They are now dealing with insurgents, making it an impossible to win fight, but damn it, he was put in charge and he will put it to a close. He has to make assessments and come up with a plan of attack, everyone in the government is hoping for the best. But McMahon doesn’t do what is heavily suggested, he is going to do what he knows is right to defeat the bad guys and save our troops.
However, as command of the troops, he is finding a lot more of the job involves not warring, but instead dealing with incompetent or annoying world leaders, including his own. The politics of war is unnerving and getting to him, preventing him from doing his job. It seems like he is put into that place entirely to be targeted by newspapers, the media, other countries, protesters, blaming him for a war he didn’t start and is just trying to finish.
And as it is a war movie, there are a shit ton of people involved, so here a lot of of the more important ones. Alan Ruck, Anthony Hayes, Anthony Michael Hall, Aymen Hamdouchi, Ben Kingsley, Daniel Betts, Emory Cohen, John Magaro, Josh Stewart, Meg Tilly, RJ Cyler, Scoot McNairy, Tilda Swinton, Topher Grace, and Russell Crowe.
Photo ops allow people to dress up fancy, show their medals, wear cool hats, and apparently drink tea.
Satire films are hard to pull off, especially if you want to avoid the now ugly valley called parody. War Machine does a decent job of maintaining its satire status without dipping down to any sort of parody territory. What it doesn’t do a good job of is being an amazing satire film.
For satire to work, everyone has to be able to get it, understand the real world events and how the art is flipping it on its head. It would be hard for someone to not know about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, but the film does go into a level of detail that would require more than the layman’s knowledge. Not a whole lot, just some, so that could be considered a negative to a lot of viewers.
I loved Pitt in our leading role here. He gave such an honest performance and was fully in that character. It never felt like the character was intentionally trying to be the butt of a joke, always very serious in ways that became amusing just to an outsider perspective. It just had a lot of truth to it, a wonderful thing for Pitt to have accomplished in this movie.
I wouldn’t say this is a perfect or extraordinary film. It was a decent watch, one I won’t probably ever go running for again. I will also like to point out how amazing Swinton was in this film. She had only one scene and her character is named German Politician, so someone you would assume is just a dumb cameo, but she killed it and added a lot of gravity to the general’s situation.